Anthony J Sargeant was born and grew up in South London. The 179 Bus Route then ran from Grove Park through Downham and Bellingham to Catford then Brockley to Blackfriars Bridge on the Thames in Central London. Tony took this bus in 1955 from Bellingham to Brockley when he went with his mother to be interviewed aged 11 for entry into Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School.
The Houses of Parliament photographed on a rainy winter’s afternoon from the South Bank of the Thames just below Waterloo Bridge. A bleak and lonely Sunday and this picture perfectly captures the mood on that day all those years ago.
Anthony Sargeant and his partner drove down through Europe in an Austin A35 van and ended up here in Sibenik on the Adriatic coast of what was then Yugoslavia ruled by Tito.
This photograph was taken on a small wooded resort island just of the coast of Sibenik where small ferry boats took holiday makers to enjoy the sun and the sea.
Šibenik is a city on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. It’s known as a gateway to the Kornati Islands. The 15th-century stone Cathedral of St. James is decorated with 71 sculpted faces. Nearby, the Šibenik City Museum, in the 14th-century Prince’s Palace, has exhibits ranging from prehistory to the present. The white stone St. Michael’s Fortress has an open-air theater, with views of Šibenik Bay and neighboring islands.
In 1940-50s South-London there were few washing machines. The mother of Anthony Sargeant did not have one but she did have a cast-iron mangle such as this which was housed in the shed at the bottom of the garden. The shed was in fact a re-purposed corrugated iron from a WW2 Anderson bomb shelter.
All laundry was done in a large heated copper boiler in the kitchen using a thick wooden pole to stir it around (the thick pole rather like a metre long broom handle also had another use – it was sometimes used to whack Tony when his Mother deemed him to have misbehaved).
Heavily soiled pieces of laundry were additionally rubbed on a washing board at the large ceramic sink in the kitchen. After rinsing out the soapy water in the sink the wet laundry was carried up the garden and put through the the wooden rollers of the mangle to squeeze out as much water as possible. The washing was then pegged out along the clothes line which ran the length of the garden. This was not advisable if the wind was coming from the direction of the local gasworks which was less than half a mile away, because at certain stages of the manufacture of Town Gas the coking ovens door would be opened and the wind would carry sooty smuts across the neighbourhood.
In August 1966 Anthony Sargeant and his partner drove across Europe in an Old Austin A35 van (painted Cambridge Blue) to spend weeks in Southern Europe heading for Greece though finally settling in what was then communist Yugoslavia under the control of President Tito. It was a magical summer and it was before the days of mass tourism. In the street markets people would be selling whatever they had produced from their small-holdings. In the front right is somebody selling a small amount of ‘Paradajz’ (fruits of paradise?) = tomatoes.
The Excalibur Estate in South London like many similar estates of prefabricated houses was erected to meet the housing shortage after the mass bombing of British cities by Germany in WW2. Designed to last for 10 years many of them lasted well into the 1970s. The Excalibur was one of the last such estates.
Anthony Sargeant notes that overcrowding on Southern Region (of what used to be British Railways) is not a new thing. In the 1950s double decker trains were introduced on the Dartford Loop line in an attempt to increase capacity. They were eventually abandoned in the 1960s because they took longer to load and unload passengers. Also the trains were necessarily somewhat taller than standard trains and could only be used on lines without tunnels. 60 years later and Southern Region trains are still overcrowded and instead of addressing that everyday problem the government is committed to an immense ‘Vanity Project’ costing many billions of pounds in building a high speed train line (HS2) which will get passengers from Birmingham to London a few minutes quicker.